Cape Town - The screams of the 60 people who were travelling on a DMJ bus that crashed outside Touws River are still ringing in Mphumelelo Nkala’s ears as he recovers from the accident.
Nkala said he was grateful he survived the horrific crash that killed 14 people.
The crash occurred just outside Touws River at about 2am on Sunday. Thirteen people died at the scene and one woman died later in hospital.
The driver of the bus and four children were among those who were killed. Many of the passenegrs were injured, eight critically.
Nkala, who was visiting family in Fort Beaufort and was returning to work in Cape Town, said he was transferred from a DMJ Transport bus to the one involved in the crash.
He said he uses DMJ Transport buses often and that he, and other passengers, had complained before about drivers speeding. “My worry is their drivers. The first driver was fine, but they swopped in Beaufort West and that is when we started noticing the speed increasing. Buses hardly overtake, but this one was overtaking a lot, even cargo trucks.”
He said they left Beaufort West at 11pm and most people were sleeping, but they were woken three hours later when the bus started swerving and the driver began losing control.
“The bus swerved and hit a sign pole, I think he fell asleep and got a fright when it swerved and then he tried to get it back on the road and that was when it fell on its side.”
“People woke up when it started swerving and they were scared and screaming. I just remember seeing windows breaking open and managing to crawl out and I sat about 10 metres away from the scene.”
Nkala said it was distressing to see people and children, who were sleeping peacefully, injured and strewn across the road. He said a motorist who arrived at the scene 10 minutes later called rescue services.
“The staff said the driver wasn’t rested and he had only been driving for DMJ transport for about two weeks. Others didn’t even know him yet.”
Nkala said he was lucky to escape unharmed and said he had gone for X-rays and was cleared by doctors and given pain pills for strained back muscles.
Thina Ngwenya was also unhappy about how the accident was handled, and said she was still not sure what happened to a friend of hers who was on the bus.
Ngwenya said she was trying to find out where her friend was because they couldn’t find her in hospitals.
She added they were looking to expand their search to mortuaries.
By Monday, DMJ Transport had still not released a statement on the crash and managers could not be reached as they were said to be in meetings all day.
Western Cape traffic chief Kenny Africa said police were still continuing with the investigation while many of the injured remained in hospitals across the province.
“Eight of those who were sent to hospital were discharged and there are still 32 in hospital.”